September 23 2014 Latest news:
Thursday, April 17, 2014
Refurbished InterCity trains on the main line between London and East Anglia should start entering service early next year – and should be fully operational by the end of the extended franchise in October 2016.
Passengers heading to London from Ipswich have welcomed the news that trains to the capital are to get a fresh new look – but feel the improvements are long overdue.
Geoff and Angie Ashton from Rushmere St Andrew near Ipswich were heading to the capital with their daughters Melanie and Kelly for a day out.
Mr Ashton travels to London about twice a week for work, and felt the improvements could not come soon enough.
He said: “That is very good news – it’s about time. The trains on this line are not very good compared with other parts of the country. If they’re going to do all that work then it should be more comfortable on the trains.”
John Franklin from Woodbridge travels to London almost every day, and also welcomed the news about the improvements to trains – he was particularly keen to hear that more seats would be provided.
He said: “The number of people travelling continues to increase, the 7pm train is dreadful. It is good that more seats will be provided, but will there be shorter trains and more crowded trains while the work is taking place?”
The carriages are getting new seats, lighting, and carpets. Wi-fi connections will be improved and power points will be installed at seats. The toilets will have tanks fitted so they no longer flush on to the tracks.
Catering carriages will be converted so they have more standard class seats for passengers.
Greater Anglia has 119 InterCity carriages, and the work will mean a number are being converted at any one time – but there should still be enough carriages available for full trains to run on the main line.
Jonathan Denby from Greater Anglia said: “Passengers should notice a significant improvement. They should be more modern and there will be more seats on trains with the changes to the catering vehicles.”
The refurbished carriages are expected to remain in service until 2019 or 2020, by which time the new long-term franchise will be well under way and either new trains or a major upgrade of services will be in the pipeline.
The electric locomotives have already been refurbished – and if Network Rail improvements to the main line permit its speed to be increased to 110mph the trains would be able to run faster.
Mr Denby added: “This is a very significant upgrade of the service and comes after considerable work by councils, MPs and others who are keen to improve services in this region.
“We would not have secured such significant improvements during what is a short-term franchise extension without this local pressure.”